Filing an accident claim with your insurance company should be straightforward, but unfortunately, it's not always that simple. Insurance companies will do anything in their power to devalue or even deny your claim. Savvy awareness and proactive measures – like hiring a personal injury attorney – are your strongest bet for ensuring the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Tactics Used by Insurance Companies
Insurance companies employ various tactics to devalue or deny accident claims, making the process far from straightforward for claimants. One common strategy involves deliberately delaying the claim processing. By prolonging the process, insurers hope that claimants will become frustrated and settle for a lower compensation amount. The insurer may even attempt to shift liability onto the claimant or another party, outright denying responsibility. This can leave claimants shouldering their expenses, creating further challenges.
Another tactic is offering a low initial settlement, often referred to as a "low-ball" offer. Insurance companies may provide a quick, inadequate settlement in the hopes that financial stress or a lack of legal knowledge will compel claimants to accept it, even if it doesn't adequately cover their losses. Insurers may also dispute the medical necessity of specific treatments or argue that claimants' injuries were preexisting. This strategy is designed to reduce the amount they are obligated to pay.
Some insurance companies go as far as conducting surveillance and social media monitoring on claimants. They may hire investigators to surveil claimants or monitor their social media profiles, searching for evidence that contradicts the claim.
Insurance companies may even work to devalue accident claims by downplaying the significance of future medical expenses. While they may readily acknowledge and compensate for immediate medical costs, they may be less willing to recognize the long-term or ongoing medical needs that can result from an accident.
Preventing Devaluation or Denial
Preventing your accident claim from being devalued or denied requires careful steps and vigilance. First and foremost, it's essential to document everything meticulously. From the moment the accident occurs, record all relevant details such as the accident scene, injuries sustained, and conversations with witnesses. Maintain a thorough record of all medical records, bills, and correspondence with the insurance company.
Another critical preventive measure is resisting the temptation to accept settlements. Insurance companies may offer quick settlements, but these often undervalue the true extent of your losses. It's in your best interest to refrain from accepting any initial offers without consulting a personal injury attorney who can provide valuable guidance.
When dealing with insurance adjusters, exercise caution regarding recorded statements. These statements can be used against you, so be mindful of the questions asked and how you respond. Insurance adjusters may seek information that could potentially harm your claim.
Ultimately, seeking legal counsel is one of the most effective steps to prevent devaluation or denial of your claim. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney early in the process is essential. They can help protect your rights, provide valuable advocacy, and ensure your best interests are at the forefront of the claim process.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Hiring a Kansas City personal injury attorney can help protect your best interests when dealing with a car accident claim. Lawyers play an essential role in assessing your case. They meticulously evaluate the circumstances surrounding your accident, gather essential evidence, and determine the overall strength of your claim.
Moreover, lawyers are adept at negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. They possess the knowledge and experience required to engage insurers effectively, striving for a fair settlement that accurately reflects your losses and damages.
Personal injury attorneys are skilled in navigating the complex legal terrain of accident claims. They can effectively advocate for your best interests, ensuring your rights are upheld throughout the process. When negotiations with insurance companies do not yield the desired outcome, lawyers provide litigation support by representing you in court. They can build and present a robust case on your behalf, ensuring that your claim is pursued vigorously.
Additionally, personal injury lawyers can be instrumental in maximizing your compensation. Their expertise allows them to pursue compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and anticipated future expenses. Their comprehensive approach ensures that you receive the full extent of the compensation you are entitled to, providing you with the financial support needed to recover and move forward after an accident.
Estimating the Value of Your Accident Claim
Determining the value of your accident claim is a complex process that takes various factors into account. Understanding these factors can help you anticipate what your case might be worth. Here are key elements that influence the estimation of your claim's value:
One of the most significant factors that will affect the value of your claim is the total cost of your medical treatment. This encompasses expenses such as surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and any ongoing medical care. The more extensive and costly your medical treatment, the higher your claim's value will likely be. It's essential to keep meticulous records of all medical bills and expenses incurred due to the accident.
If your injuries have resulted in time away from work, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income. This includes the wages you have already lost and potential future income losses if your injuries impact your ability to work in the long term. Accurately documenting your missed workdays and potential future income losses is crucial in determining the value of this component of your claim.
Pain and Suffering
Non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall impact on your quality of life, are essential factors in calculating your case's worth. Quantifying pain and suffering can be challenging, as it involves subjective experiences, but it significantly contributes to the overall value of your claim. The more severe and long-lasting your pain and suffering, the higher your claim's value will likely be.
In certain situations, it may be established that you bear some degree of responsibility for the accident. This legal concept is known as comparative negligence, and its application can significantly impact your accident claim. Comparative negligence laws are not uniform across all states; they vary, and understanding the specific regulations in your state is crucial.
In Kansas, the legal framework operates under modified comparative negligence rules. Under these rules, your compensation may be affected if you are found to share some degree of fault for the accident. Specifically, if you are determined to be more at fault than the defendant, you may be barred from recovering any compensation. However, if your share of responsibility is less than 50%, you can still pursue a claim, but your compensation will be reduced proportionally to your degree of fault.
On the other hand, Missouri adheres to the pure comparative negligence doctrine. In this context, even if you are predominantly at fault for the accident, you retain the right to seek compensation. However, your recovery will be diminished proportionately to your assigned responsibility level. For instance, if you are determined to be 40% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 40%. It's important to note that in pure comparative negligence states, your claim's value is directly influenced by your share of responsibility, regardless of whether it exceeds 50%.
Insurance Policy Limits
The value of your case may also be influenced by the insurance policy limits of the at-fault party. If the responsible party's insurance policy has a lower limit, it may cap the maximum amount you can recover. In such cases, your compensation may be limited by the available insurance coverage.